The Composite Species Concept: A Rigorous Basis for Cladistic Practice

  • D. J. Kornet
  • James W. McAllister


As previous work has shown, the genealogical network can be partitioned exhaustively into internodons, mutually exclusive and historically continuous entities delimited between two successive permanent splits or between a permanent split and an extinction. Internodons are not suitable candidates for the status of species, because of their short life span and the difficulty of recognizing their boundaries. However, internodons may be suitable building blocks for a viable species concept. We introduce the concept of composite species as a sequence of internodons, by qualifying only some permanent splits in the genealogical network as speciation events. The permanent splits that count as speciation events on our account are those associated with a character state fixation: this proposal ensures the recognizability of composite species. Lastly, we show how actual taxonomic practice is able to recover the phylogenetic tree of composite species from standard morphological data.


Species concepts genealogical network internodons character state fixation speciation 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. J. Kornet
    • 1
  • James W. McAllister
    • 2
  1. 1.Philosophy of the Life Sciences GroupUniversity of LeidenLeiden
  2. 2.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of LeidenLeiden

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